Dear Annie: I am 28 years old and have lived with the same man for 10 years. We have two beautiful daughters, ages 8 and 4.
Last May, “Rob” and I decided to take an extended vacation. We bought an RV and spent the summer traveling and visiting family. Although I really enjoyed the sights, some aspects of our trip were truly horrid. I frequently had to act as referee between Rob and the kids. Our older daughter had a bad attitude throughout the trip, and Rob took it personally. What’s more, we rarely made love, and several times we fought.
We’re back home now but have yet to return to any semblance of normalcy. Rob took a temporary job in another state. At first, I was supportive, but he has begun to stay away longer and longer. At the moment, he’s home for a day or two every two weeks. He says he wants to start a business with his brother and thinks we should move there in six months.
This puts me in a dreadful situation — away from professional contacts and a supportive family. I have no idea whether this venture with his brother will work out, and Rob hasn’t bothered to look for a job closer to us. I don’t need to tell you how challenging it is to be a single parent. I am exhausted, sad, resentful and angry. I miss Rob’s help and companionship, but I’m not sure I miss him.
Should I endure the next several months and then move? My daughters miss their father, and it would be hard on them if we split up. It is important to keep my family together, but at what cost?
— Between a Rock in Kansas
Dear Kansas: If you and Rob have been together for 10 years, you were quite young when your relationship began. After the enforced togetherness of the road trip, Rob may be rethinking his domestic situation and enjoying his “freedom.”
If you think he’s going to stay in his new location whether or not his business venture succeeds, you might consider moving so the children can be closer to their father. However, you sound unsure about the relationship and could benefit from counseling. It would be best if Rob would go with you, but if not, please go alone.
Dear Annie: My mom and dad were together for 30 years and raised four children. Dad died suddenly at age 60 from an undetected heart problem. Mom was 52 and grieved terribly.
Four years after Dad passed away, Mom met a widower. They wanted to travel, but he felt they should get married first. After some time, she agreed.
My problem is, I always have viewed the marriage as a betrayal of my father and, to this day, have a problem accepting it. All of these people have passed away, including my mom, who died in December. Are my feelings justified?
— Still Miss Him
Dear Still: You can’t help how you feel, justified or not. But it was unreasonable and unfair to have expected your mother to remain alone forever in deference to your father’s memory. When children grow up and move away, the remaining parent is left with an empty house and no one to share her life. Please forgive your mother for wanting to recapture the happiness she once had.
Dear Readers: An Irish blessing for St. Patrick’s Day: May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.